On Wednesday night the England Under 21 football team travelled to Serbia for the second leg of their qualifier for the European Championships in Israel next summer.
Holding a 1-0 lead from the first game, England scored in the last minute through substitute Connor Wickham, winning the tie 2-0 on aggregate.
From the moment England stepped out to warm up they were subject to racist chants and intimidating behaviour. These taunts continued throughout the game, and players such as goalkeeper Jack Butland were pelted with an array of objects.
Tempers boiled over as the England team celebrated Wickham’s goal. After the final whistle blew, Danny Rose was sent off for kicking the ball into the crowd. Some Serbian players reacted angrily and a melee ensued. This resulted in members of the England back-room staff being head-butted and kicked.
After UEFA opened an investigation into the proceedings, the Serbian FA released a statement on the previous night’s events. What made the already appalling situation worse was the Serbian FA’s response. In a poorly worded press statement they implied that Danny Rose deserved the racist abuse he and his team mates suffered.
The short statement was so preposterous that LS Sport feels it has a moral obligation to highlight the absurdity of it. Had they gone on to try and justify their statement, the Serbian FA might have said:
“Danny Rose, amongst other black English players acted in a confrontational and provocative manner. Prior to kick-off Rose and teammates were warned about being black. They took no notice to correct this offence.
Upon kick-off and in front of a packed stadium, which included a significant number of children, they continued to be black. The referee, following UEFA guidelines asked them politely to change this. Police and stewards were alerted to this unacceptable behavior with over 1,000 separate complaints, with the minority of Serbian fans booing to try alert the referee that the England players had not altered their behaviour.
After the goal, Rose then pushed the boundaries of all human dignity to the limits, by celebrating while still being black. No set of fans, upset first and foremost at losing the match, could be expected to react in any other manner than to hurl stones, lighters, coins and other missiles while making monkey chants.
Moreover, the Serbian management also acted to secure national pride by assaulting their English counterparts. They shall be decorated most generously. In contrast, our national manager, Aleksander Jankovic, did nothing to stop our glorious name being tarnished and shall be punished accordingly”.
In other news, the English FA has issued guidelines for our national squad about how to act when on England duty, even going as far as to remind us that “we all make mistakes”. Coincidentally, we are told that this was written before Joe Hart’s howler in the senior England side’s draw with Poland.
To many it could seem strange that the FA choose to issue a code of conduct out of the blue. We might ask whether this is really necessary? After all, it’s not as though one of our greatest left-backs was fined £90,000 for criticizing the suits at the FA.
Thankfully, England is very tolerant nation and a leader in the fight against racism. It’s not like our captain recently retired after being charged with racially abusing a fellow countrymen and player…